War: Light and Dark

Posted: 04.28.2010 in war
Tags: , ,

“The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood [overcome] it.” – John 1:5

In the first few verses of John, there is a lot going on.  So much in fact that I am not interested in doing anything that involves context or overview.  All of my fine biblical-scholar-to-be friends are collectively rolling their eyes and/or shaking their fists.  I am ok with that reality.

What I am interested in is that this verse contains the universe and our individual lives in it.  Shocking, really.  It seems mostly to be engaged with Abstract Cosmic Spiritual War.  Which is good and fine, but what blows me away is to see that Cosmic Dynamic play out in my own heart and soul.

We have had the chance to read “A Shining Affliction”  by Annie Rogers for one of our upcoming classes.  A doctoral psychotherapy intern who chronicles both her journey with one disturbed boy as well as her own breakdown in the midst of it (to the point of speechlessness).  And then her return to caring for the boy.  It is a brilliantly written book: Engaging, challenging, deep, sweet.  I cannot recommend it enough. Plus it has short chapters.

This book illustrates what Mars Hill Graduate School has been begging, dragging, and otherwise enticing us students (and suckers apparently) to do:  To admit our own darkness and brokenness in light of grace and healing.  And to believe that it does not remove or disqualify us from the things we are called to do in both therapy and ministry.

I have had a tremendous fear that at some point in my schooling, someone would look at me and simply say, “You are disqualified because you are too messed up to do this work.”  I was fearful of being found out, of not being strong enough or good enough or smart enough or ______ enough to do what I want to do.  Too many years of seeing this play out in the church at large.  Lots of hiding (from everyone) because we value “holiness” over honesty, repression over transformation.  At some point, leadership became synonymous with perfection rather than suffering, honesty, and servanthood.  Somehow, we have come to believe on some level that darkness is stronger or more potent than Light, so it does not get seen.  The truth is that Grace and Light have more strength and life and depth than our darkness.  That the final word and work is determined by the Trinity, not by our fallenness.

As a quick caveat, this does not imply that character/holiness/righteousness does not matter.  Or that there are not times that someone should step away (or be pulled away) from leading others.  But it is worth thinking about how character can be transformed if it is never brought into the light.  How do we engage the categories of transparency, holiness, leadership, and transformation?  If we want people (leaders)  to be transformed, they cannot do that in a climate of fear.  There is definitely a balance here that needs to be explored.

So, I find myself realizing that my darkness does not understand and does not overcome my Light (God and His presence, work, and image in me).  That my sin and my resistance to God’s strength and kindness in my life is not the last word or the deciding factor in His purposes for me.  That, ultimately, His Light rules my darkness. And I do not need to fear the exposure of that darkness, but embrace the Light that dances in its midst.

  1. Mike,
    This is really powerful truth. It’s something I need to remind myself daily.

  2. C. says:

    I’ve also been afraid of being “found out” and politely excused from the counseling profession. I’m glad you’re growing in confidence that you can be a human with both darkness and light and still journey with and help others.

    I reeeeally need my copy of “A Shining Affliction” to come in the mail so I can start it :/

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